23 Baby Names Inspired By History For Your Pioneering Baby

What's in a name? A lot. It sticks with you your entire life and determines whether you'll dread roll call when you're in elementary school or whether everything will be smooth sailing. This is coming from a kid whose last name was Berwager, and I dreaded the first day of school when the teacher would butcher it and have no clue how to pronounce it while the class laughed. I couldn't pick my last name then, but you can pick a great first name for your kid that has some gravitas, like all of the baby names inspired by history for some inspiration.

Giving your kid a name that has positive historical relevance can be pretty inspiring, I think. I mean, if you name your daughter Rosa, will she be a strong-willed and brave lady who is willing to stand up for what she believes in and rally for equal rights? Maybe. If only just the name was what made sure your kid turned out to be great, am I right? These historical folks from which these names are derived have had some positive impact on our world — so maybe it will inspire your offspring to do the same.

1Joan

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A French heroine turned Saint, you can’t go wrong with naming your kid after Joan of Arc. Talk about a strong female role model. She felt called upon by God to lead France to victory in the war against England, according to History. And even though she was victorious, she was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Naming your baby Joan could be a great way to honor Joan, and it also means “God is gracious,” according to Nameberry.

2Ulysses

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Not only is Ulysses the name of a U.S. president, but it’s the title of the famous James Joyce book written in 1920. Ulysses was also the Roman name for Odysseus, a hero in Greek literature. You don’t hear this name much anymore, so your kid will definitely stand out. And who knows, maybe he will be a great adventurer or president one day, too.

3Elizabeth

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There are quite a few famous Elizabeths in history, including Queen Elizabeth I. According to History, Queen Elizabeth I “reigned England with considerable diplomacy and brought a period of peace and enlightenment to England.” But whether you want your little girl named after her or Queen Elizabeth II, it's a noble name. And according to Behind the Name, Elizabeth means "my God is an oath.”

4Catherine

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Catherine means “pure,” and it has Greek origin, according to Nameberry. And there are also a lot of Catherines in history. Catherine the Great comes to mind, who according to History, promoted education and enlightenment as the Empress of Russia.

5Isabella

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During her rule as Queen of Spain, Isabella reduced crime and debt. She and her husband King Ferdinand also unified the country “through their joint rule of Castile and Aragon,” according to History. Baby Center noted that Isabella is a variation of Elizabeth, and it means “devoted to God.”

6Amadeus

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I love this name because I love Mozart. However, after seeing the movie Amadeus and hearing his obnoxious laugh over and over again, I’m not sure I could name my kid this. However, if you haven’t seen it, or the laugh didn’t annoy you, then go for it. Behind the Name says it means “to love God” from the Latin Amare (to love) and deus (god). Pretty cool, huh?

7Felix

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The name Felix means “happy and fortunate,” according to Nameberry. And that makes sense. First of all, doesn’t the name Felix just sound happy? As far as historical relevance, Felix was the name of four popes and 67 saints, according to Nameberry, and the name has shown up in quite a few old novels. Felix Frankfurter is also the name of a long-term Supreme Court Justice. Plus, Felix the cat was a pretty cool character.

8Titus

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According to Nameberry, Titus could possibly mean “title of honor.” There are a few Tituses in many different historical contexts. The name of a Roman military commander, Titus became an Emperor, and in the new Testament, Titus was a “trusted companion of St. Paul, the recipient of one of his epistles,” Nameberry noted. You can also find the name Titus in Shakespeare, and a more modern example in the USA TV series Titus 2000 and in The Impossible Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. Fun fact: Rembrandt (the painter) also had a son named Titus, according to Nameberry.

9Augustus

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Not only is Augustus a very authoritative sounding name, but the name was given to a character in the Charles Dickens novel, The Pickwick. It’s the name of a British painter and portrait sculptor, and it “originated as a title given to the Roman senate to the first Roman Emperor Octavian, the adopted son of Julius Caesar,” according to Nameberry. Augustus also means “great magnificent."

10Harriet

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What an inspirational woman Harriet Tubman was. She was "the conductor" of the underground railroad, which was an underground operation to lead slaves to freedom during the Civil War, according to History. She was also a Union spy, a nurse, and a women's suffrage supporter. Harriet Tubman is as amazing and heroic as they come. It would be an honor to name your kid Harriet. Additionally, "Harriet" means "estate ruler," according to Nameberry.

11Louisa

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Not only was Louisa May Alcott an amazing writer whose stories have lasted for generations, she was also a Civil War nurse and activist for the women's suffrage movement, History noted. Even cooler? Louisa means "renowned warrior," according to Nameberry.

12Rosa

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Rosa Parks is an incredibly important part of American history. She was a crucial part of the Civil Rights Movement by refusing to give up her seat to a white man on the bus, according to History. Known as the "First Lady of Civil Rights," your daughter will be proud to be named after such an iconic person. Obviously, Rosa means flower, according to Nameberry.

13Abigail

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Now I personally love the name Abigale, for obvious reasons. But if you don't spell it like my parents did and do the "ail" instead of the "ale," your kid will be named after a very influential first lady. So influential, in fact, that there was some criticism of Abigail Adams being too involved and influential to her husband John Adams' politics. They continuously wrote letters back and forth when he was abroad and she'd keep him informed of political changes going on back home, according to History. Nameberry also noted that Abigail means "my father is joyful."

14Susan

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Susan B. Anthony was an early leader of the women's suffrage movement and established the National Women's Suffrage Association, according to History. She fought for equality for all people, not just women, and didn't smile in photos to try to look as stern as possible all the time so she, a woman, would be taken seriously back in the 1800s. She was definitely a hardworking and dedicated American icon for the people. Susan also means "lily" according to thinkbabynames.com.

15Martin

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Uh, Martin Luther King, Jr., anyone? Need I say more? This Baptist minister turned activist and leader of the Civil Rights movement would be the perfect name for a young man that you're hoping will be a positive force in our world. According to Behind the Name, "Martin is derived from Martis, the genitive case of the name of the Roman god Mars." Additionally it's based on the name "Martin Luther, who began the Protestant Reformation."

16Florence

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Florence Nightingale was a pioneer in modern nursing, according to History. British Heritage said that Florence "received a calling from God... and called her to his service," but she didn't know what it would be initially. After visiting the poor and the sick and helping people on their deathbed during the influenza epidemic of 1845, she realized her calling was nursing. Florence also means "flowering in bloom," according to thinkbabynames.com.

17Franklin

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Gotta love a man who loves his dog, am I right? As the 32nd president of the Unites States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Sr. — FDR — was a democrat who won four presidential elections and was president during the Great Depression, helping the American people "regain faith in themselves," according to whitehouse.gov. "He proposed, and Congress enacted, a sweeping program to bring recovery to business and agriculture, relief to the unemployed and to those in danger of losing farms and homes, and reform, especially through the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority," the website noted. He also planned the United Nations and created the "good neighbor" policy, creating a "mutual action against aggressors."

Basically, he was a pretty remarkable guy. Plus the name Franklin means "free," according to thinkbabynames.com, which is seriously epic.

18Amelia

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Amelia Earheart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, the History website noted. She was also the first woman to receive a "National Geographic Society gold medal," receive a "Distinguished Flying Cross," and other numerous aviation records. This "pioneering female pilot" is legendary, as she unfortunately disappeared "during an attempt to fly around the globe in 1937." Amelia also means "industrious and striving," according to Baby Center.

19Gloria

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Gloria Steinem is not necessarily historical yet, but she's definitely making history. This journalist and author of books "empowering women in the workplace, politics, and all other societal aspects," according to History, has a namesake that would be an honor to give your kid. Hopefully they'll be as inspired to do good work like she is if they're named Gloria. Thinkbabynames.com said the name Gloria means "glory," which is really fitting, too.

20Abraham

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As the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln's claim to fame was the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, which "declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy in 1863," according to whitehouse.gov. He's also known for this famous quote, that can be seen on one of the walls of the Lincoln Memorial in D.C., "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…." What an inspirational guy to be named after, right? According to ourbabynamer.com, Abraham means "our father."

21Sandra

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No, not that Sandra. But she's pretty awesome, too, if you ask me. I meant Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to hold the title of First Majority Leader of the Senate, according to History. Sandra means "defender of mankind," according to Our Baby Namer.

22Frida

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Frida Kahlo was not only an amazingly talented self-portrait artist, but she was a feminist icon to boot, Biography noted. According to Rosie, Frida was a feminist icon because she defied gender stereotypes as a boxer, keeping her "mono-brow," and dressing like a man in her family portraits. She also beat men in tequila challenges, was an open bisexual, and depicted real women's issues and strengths in her artwork. Even cooler? Frida means "peace," according to ourbabynamer.com.

23Malala

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Another woman that's not necessarily historical yet, but is definitely making history. Malala Yousafzai is an education activist in Pakistan and "the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate," according to her website. She speaks out about girls' rights to learn, and was shot in the head because of her speaking out. She now studies philosophy, politics, and economics at the University of Oxford, her website noted. What a powerful force to be reckoned with and a great namesake.

Your child will wear their name loud and proud if they're named after any of these inspirational people. And I can guarantee they won't dread roll call in elementary school either.